"I fail to see the logic in your plan."
With an annoyed roll of her eyes Death threw herself over a nearby chaise, letting out a huff of indignation.
"Why does there have to be logic? Plenty of good, even great ideas, are totally illogical." Dream fixed his elder sister in his starry gaze and she snickered in a good-natured manner in response. "Yeah, I forgot who I was talking to."
"Sister, you have offered me wise council in the past when I came to you with my troubles. I do not understand why you are turning me away now."
"I'm not turning you away. I'm just saying that you're talking to the wrong sister." She shifted to the edge of the chaise, hands gesturing emphatically. "Hey, we all know you've been spending too much time in Despair's realm as of late - and by the way I'm glad you finally figured that out on your own." She let out a little chortle, making Dream look away, acting as if his pride were wounded. "Oh, don't be that way! It's true and you know it."
"Perhaps," he offered.
"And we all know what a mess things would be if you went to our sister-brother Desire. Let's just say your relationships haven't exactly been..."
"Agreed." Dream cut her off with a wave of the hand. "However I cannot discern what comfort lies in madness. Why Delirium?"
Death rose and walked over to her brother, rubbing his arm consolingly as her voice softened.
"Have you forgotten so quickly? She was once Delight. And if you want advice on being happy..." She paused briefly before continuing. "This falls into her bailiwick and don't we all seek each other's council when our paths cross?"
"Yes, but Delirium?"
"Just because she's the youngest doesn't mean she's not master of her own domain. She is no more a child than the universe is a baby. She is of the Endless. She is one of us." She gave Dream a playful nudge. "Besides, she'll be tickled that you invited her over. She likes to visit."
"Very well." Dream stepped up to his youngest sister's sigil, an amorphous shaped swirl of colors, and took it from the wall. "Sister, I stand in my gallery and I hold your sigil. Will you attend me?"
He almost immediately had to step back as a voluminous cloud of iridescent bubbles erupted in the gallery beside him. When they threatened to encroach on the two of them, he waved them away with a gesture, revealing a young girl - playfully batting at the bubbles - and a German Shepherd dog who wore the expression of long suffering patience in an almost human manner.
Delirium turned and saw her brother, face lighting up. "You called for me! You never call for me!" She rushed at him and hugged him tight around the middle, clearly startling him as Death smiled nearby.
"Greetings, Sister," Dream managed once he recovered. He also nodded his head in acknowledgment of the dog once she released him. "Greetings Barnabas."
"Greetings, Oneiros," Barnabas replied, nodding his dog head as well.
"Hey, Sis!" Death piped up. "Hey, pup."
"Not a pup," Barnabas grumbled a little then got out of the way as Delirium ran to her sister.
"Hi Big Sis!" The two shared a warm embrace then Delirium plopped herself down on the chaise. Her oddly shaped tutu-like skirt formed a sizable bubble-gum colored froth in her lap below a purplish leather jacket with yellow smiley face patches on it that really smiled. "Is this a family meeting? Did Destruction come home? Is someone getting married? Will there be cake?" The words fell out of her mouth so quickly they formed more of a word salad than coherent sentences.
"Not a family meeting," Dream explained. "I just... Our sister thought..." He floundered for words even as Death glared at him and Delirium started feeding crackers to the smiley faces, which ate them up with glee.
"Our brother here needs some advice."
Delirium perked up at that. "From me?" she asked, cocking her head to the side. "I hope it's not about taking care of fish because I really really tried and they all died. They seemed so happy before they died though and such pretty colors..." Her face darkened and gray shadows of fish shapes erupted from the tips of her fingers only to dissolve into nothingness after flopping around helplessly.
Death took her hand to get her attention and stop the flow of fish ghosts. "Don't worry about the fish, hon. They were happy and it was their time. Besides, you can always make more fish."
"More happy fish!" Brightening, Delirium waved her hands and suddenly there were a dozen brightly colored fish swimming in the air in a colorful cloud around her head. "Hi fishies!"
"Great. More fish," muttered Barnabas before he curled up and closed his eyes for a nap.
Dream merely gestured to Death the futility of talking to Delirium when she was clearly distracted by her new playthings. Death just glared back and then turned to her sister, drawing her attention by giving her a little shake.
"Can you give the fish a vacation somewhere nice for a while? Dream wants to talk to you and it's hard to do that when you're in a school."
"In school! I'm in school!" Delirium laughed, a silly joyful sound that couldn't be construed as anything from nature. When she noticed Death patiently watching, she offered up an apologetic smile. "Okay, I'll send them to go play in the Great Barrier Reef for a while." With a wave of her hand the fish were gone and she sat, looking almost like an attentive child at her desk waiting for the lesson to begin.
"Go on," Death urged, cocking her head towards where their brother was standing, looking uncharacteristically uncertain.
Dream steepled his fingers thoughtfully before speaking.
"As you know, my realm is not one of the more pleasant ones. People fear the sunless lands and dread entry into Despair's realm, yet they also fear their nightly slumber. I fulfill my duties and oversee the dreamlands they visit in their sleep, however I have been finding no joy in my duties as of late, only obligation." He paused and when Delirium said nothing, he continued. "Therefore I wished to ask you, Sister. How can pleasure be found in such endeavors, in this realm?"
"I like your realm!" Delirium exclaimed, bouncing up out of her seat. The fish didn't come back, but suddenly images of dreams and nightmares appeared on balloons floating around her, ones that she poked with a large pin to pop. "It has Matthew and Lucien and all the neat books..." Pop went the raven and the library of dreams along with its librarian. "And Eve is cool even if Cain and Abel are kind of weird." More pops. "Oh and that guy with the pumpkin head? He's funny." She ran around popping balloons, giggling as she went until she got to a white one and stopped in front of it. "I don't like this one," she said, frowning.
"Why not?" Dream asked, looking at the familiar image on the balloon face - one that showed sharp teeth in an open mouth and equally sharp teeth in both eye sockets. "The Corinthian is arguably my best nightmare ever."
Delirium shuddered. "I don't like him. He's scary, not fun and happy and colorful like the fishies." She gestured and the Corinthian's face on the balloon twisted as if in pain, contorting almost beyond recognition before the balloon popped from the strain. "You should put more fishies in your dreams," she continued brightly as if she hadn't just tormented a nightmare avatar. "That way they'd be happy and fun and colorful and people wouldn't be scared of going to sleep and maybe they wouldn't be scared of the sunless lands too."
Her ramble continued even as Death gave Dream a look telling him to pay closer attention.
"More fishies and doggies! I could loan you Barnabas!" At that the dog perked up, looking worried. "Destruction loaned him to me so I could let you borrow him too. I bet he'd make a nice dream doggie. I could give you my castles made of cotton candy. They'd make dreams you could eat! There's so much in my realm that would make nice dreams! I have songs that aren't made of music, shapes that make noise and shh..." She held up a finger to her lips to shush them, her tone growing conspiratorial. "I'm the only on who knows the true color of the number seven." She nodded rather seriously and proudly and Dream just turned to Death in defeat.
"I told you this was folly."
While Delirium looked confused, Death just tipped her head back and indulged in a hearty laugh.
"Weren't you listening? She just gave you the best advice possible."
"What?" Dream looked between the two of them, confused, as Delirium looked equally confused.
"I did?" she asked, her mismatched eyes bright with wonder.
"Yes, you did." Death patted her sister's hand.
"Cool! Okay, I need to go find my fishies again. Come on Barnabas! I hope you can swim!"
Barnabas let out a dog sigh and turned to Death. "Thanks for all the fish," he drawled, tone dripping with sarcasm.
A second later a miniature tornado of flower petals erupted, gathered up girl and dog, and disappeared with them.
After her whirlwind departure Dream turned to Death, splaying his hands out, clearly at a loss. "Do tell, Sister. What is this valuable lesson I appear to have missed?" Dream asked, doubtful.
Death rose and straightened her brother's robes, smirking.
"Her advice? Make more nice dreams and fewer nightmares."